False Alarm Calls Down After Ordinance

By: Alicia Myers Email
By: Alicia Myers Email

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wichita Police are hoping to continue to cut the number of false security alarms that are costing you and the city millions every year.

Every time an alarm sounds, the security company is notified. If you are not at home, or in your business, the company calls 911. That call takes officers and firemen off the streets.

If that call leads to a false alarm, those are resources that could be freed-up in case of an emergency situation.

Forty thousand alarms are set each day in Wichita businesses and homes.

"I think it's a sense of security and comfort. It allows them to (have) a master button to get a quick response from police or fire," said Norman Williams, Wichita Police Chief.

About 98% of the alarms are tripped by mistake. Those mistakes cost the city millions of dollars every year.

"Any time you're going to have a false alarm, there's a level of accountability, and understanding how it works, and doing what you can do to reduce those false alarms," said Chief Williams.

Last August, the city enacted a new alarm ordinance to help fight false alarms.

Alarm users are now required to pay an annual $25 permit fee, and are only given one free burglary and fire false alarm call a year.

After that, each call to 911 that is a false alarm will cost you and other taxpayers.

"False alarms tie up field units that we need to respond to higher priority calls, and once they're out checking a residence, they have to check it as though it's a valid alarm every time," said Elora Randleas, Sedgwick County Emergency Communications.

"I think it's better for the alarm users to understand how their alarms work, and what it costs for them to have false alarms."

So far, the ordinance seems to be working.

The number of false alarms in Wichita has been cut in half over time. What used to be about 30,000 false alarm calls a year, has turned in to about 15,000 a year.

Emergency officials hope the numbers will continue to decrease, especially with more focus being paid to education.

"The more knowledgeable we are, it helps reduce those false alarms," said Chief Williams.

Wichita Police will hold another seminar Thursday from 6:00 - 7:30PM in the city council chambers. The meeting will be for alarm companies and businesses who use security alarms.

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